A Green Home: Window Light Fixture

Reader Contribution by Jaci Kennison
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Jaclyn Kennison is a freelance writer living and playing in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She owns and manages an art gallery and event venue between fits of shopping and redecorating.

My significant other and I still live in an apartment. We have long dreamed of home ownership and until the right home in the right location comes along, I often catch myself day-dreaming about décor, storage, layout, wall treatments and other green-girlie ideas. To be totally truthful, I keep a sketchbook of my ideas near my desk with all my old issues of Natural Home magazine. (Yes, seriously.)

A while back we found what just might be our perfect home. In a fit of excitement, and to pass a particularly cold Saturday, we wandered around our local home improvement store to get ideas on design. We found inspiration in almost every department–except the lighting department. The designs were overly artificial versions of potentially natural looking elements, or they looked as if they belonged in a museum. Nothing had charm, or whimsy, or style–at least not in my opinion.

I spent the next several days occasionally wandering around in my head for ideas on how I would solve this issue, should we buy this house. The ceilings were low, so I wanted something that would sit close to the light. The rooms are very small, so it would have to be small. I wanted it to be mostly clear to let as much light through as possible, have some style but not overwhelm the space, and it would have to fit with my very outdoorsy style. One sunny afternoon, inspiration struck–a window!

Often there are windows for sale in newspapers or garage sales, and if you can’t find one there, check with your local construction company. Remodeling projects often leave people with whole walls and rooms–and windows–to dispose of.

Recycle old windows into light fixtures. Photo Courtesy acobox.com.

Find a window with a sturdy frame that is the appropriate size for your fixture. If the frame is a little shaky, reinforce as necessary. To hide that naked bulb from view, I think I would glaze the panes with a clear, eco-friendly, water-borne acrylic like the one I found online from buygreen.com. Two coats of clear glaze on the window panes will diffuse the light a bit without muting it too much.

Start with freshly cleaned glass and apply the glaze in a stroke pattern you like–it will probably show a bit in the finished product. Simple vertical lines work very well. Consider applying your second coat in the opposite direction. Don’t worry about making a “mistake.” If you don’t like the way it looks, simply wash the window with warm, soapy water and start over. Play around with angular or circular strokes, or consider taping off a design pattern. Tinting the glaze is an option as well. Just be sure to choose an appropriate color.

Paint or stain the frame of the window to compliment your décor. I enjoy the look of worn wood, so I would remove any old paint from the window frame and just let the wood be its fabulous self.

You can adapt this idea to a child’s room as well, painting each pane of the window with a different tint or creating a unique design in each square. The window frame could also be painted with a variety of colors to create a playful atmosphere.

Suspend the frame a few inches from the bulb with small or medium gauge chains, or a heavy duty wire and you have a lovely recycled light fixture. Just another green idea for the sketchbook.

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